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 ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rams tight end Lance Kendricks has developed into more than just a red zone threat. He has at least two catches inside the opponents' 20 or a touchdown in each of his last five games.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Kendricks also is a solid blocker and has helped improve the Rams' running game in the past three weeks.
It's the best start for Kendricks since he was drafted in the second round out of Wisconsin in 2011. Last year, he finished with 42 receptions for 519 yards. That was the most yards receiving by a Rams tight end since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.
This season, Kendricks has 20 catches for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Eleven of his receptions have been for first downs. He had a season-high five catches against Dallas.
''I would agree I'm off to a good start this season,'' Kendricks said Friday. ''The main thing for me is to stay consistent. I have things to work on and make myself a better player. I want to improve my game.
''As far as tight ends, it's kind of hard because we have so many different jobs. We have a lot on our plate but at the same time, I want to make the most out of it.''
He has done that for the Rams (3-5). Kendricks is versatile and can also line up in the slot as a receiver or come out of the backfield as a fullback.
The Rams are playing a lot of two- and three-tight end sets, so Kendricks is heavily involved.
In last week's 14-9 loss to Seattle, Kendricks caught two passes for 23 yards. He also helped block on the line, helping rookie running back Zac Stacy rush for 134 yards on 26 carries.
Kendricks has shown a knack for scoring in the red zone. All three of his touchdowns have been come inside the 20-yard line.
''They make an emphasis on trying to find me down there so hopefully, I can get in there this week,'' Kendricks said.
Kendricks had the lone touchdown against San Francisco when he caught a 6-yard pass from quarterback Sam Bradford, who is out for the season with a knee injury. In the win over Houston, Kendricks caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Bradford.
He showed his athletic ability when he left his feet and dove, tapping the ball on the pylon for a 16-yard touchdown reception from Bradford against Jacksonville.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher has noticed.
''Well, Lance had been outstanding on the line of scrimmage and he's making plays down the field,'' Fisher said. ''He's blocking big football players pretty well.''
Besides blocking on the edge of the line, Kendricks also blocks out the backfield when he lines up as a fullback.
It doesn't matter to him. Being on the field and contributing is what counts.
''It's fun being out there, especially since we're running the ball well,'' Kendricks said. ''We've had good communication on the field.''
Kendricks had offseason knee surgery and said he is healthy. What helped him recover was doing yoga after reading articles that made him think it would be good for him.
He believes yoga helps him with his flexibility, which helps him avoid injuries. He doesn't practice it much during the season, but he makes it an offseason priority.
''The main thing is the flexibility aspect for me,'' Kendricks said. ''It's relaxing. It's fun to do. It's something you can go away and do and just chill. It's kind of addicting.''
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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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